Colorado is home to some of the top ski mountains in North America, if not the world. You know their names: Vail, Aspen Snowmass, Breckenridge…the list goes on, and each resort is worthy of its own dedicated winter trip. But in a state with so many peaks and cool little mountain towns, you don’t have to stick to the world-famous. And when you get off the beaten track, what you’re likely to find are shorter lift lines, lower ticket prices, and a higher percentage of locals with you on the slopes.
Hidden just behind a mountain pass or sitting right at the edge of town, these 10 awesome ski mountains are practically invite-only. Cross these off your list, and you’ll be an honorary Coloradan in no time.
Often overlooked in favor of the nearby and much larger Copper Mountain (or simply a victim of Google’s auto-correct?), Cooper might just be the best place to ski on a fresh powder day in Colorado. Beginner and intermediate terrain make up the majority of the mountain’s 400 lift-served acres and 39 trails, while experts can get extreme with a snowcat tour of Chicago Ridge, opening up an additional 2,600 acres of smooth bowls and gnarly drops.
Located just north of Leadville (the highest incorporated town in the US), Cooper was established in 1942 as a training ground for the snow troopers of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division. This history defines the rugged, unpretentious atmosphere at the resort, and stories of Colorado’s mountaineering legends still float around the lodge bar. In addition to being one of the oldest ski areas in Colorado, it’s also one of the most affordable ($54 full-day adult, $34 full-day child), so don’t leave the family at home for this one.